It may only be the third highest in the UK, but Helvellyn is number one for dramatic summit views and thrilling ascents…
Why: The Lake District National Park is the perfect playground for outdoor adventure seekers, and its crowning glory is the towering mountain of Helvellyn. Even its name combines excitement and menace, and at 949m above sea level it deserves the full-on respect accorded to mountains. From the top, looking out to the west, the panorama extends over Thirlmere to Borrowdale and the Derwent Fells. Gazing to the east, the unforgettable ridge of Striding Edge leads your eye towards Patterdale, Ullswater and High Street. To the south, the high ground continues to Dollywagon Pike and Fairfield, while to the north there’s Raise and Stybarrow Dodd.
Walk here: There’s no easy route up Helvellyn due to the effort involved in climbing at least 700m in ascent, but the least technical trail heads up from the south, starting at Grasmere and passing via Dollywagon Pike and Nethermost Pike. For a shorter, steeper, more savage fight with closely-clustered contour lines, climb to the top from one of the three paths that leave the east shore of Thirlmere and head almost as the crow flies to the summit ridge. But for adventure and challenge there’s no beating the path up from Glenridding, via Striding Edge, where the sharp, exposed ridge forces hands-on rock scrambling in places. Save space on your camera’s memory card for the view back down the ridge once you’ve conquered it.
Mountain bike here: Amazingly, the summit of Helvellyn is accessible via bike, and legally too, as a bridleway passes right over its summit. The route leads south-west from Ullswater, along Grisedale, to Grisedale Tarn, from where it climbs over Dollywagon Pike and on to the Helvellyn ridge. The ride is tough, steep, rocky and technical, so expect to push or carry your bike in places, but the reward is a spine-tingling descent down Sticks Pass, once you’ve ridden over Lower Man and Raise. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but you’ll be smiling from ear-to-ear when you get back to Glenridding.
Run here: The Helvellyn and the Dodds fell race climbs 1,337m over 24km, for one of the toughest cross-country runs you’ll ever undertake. Entry is a modest £7, and the next event is on 24th May, keswickac.org.uk.
Triathlon here: Yes, really! If a normal triathlon doesn’t present enough of a challenge, sign up for the 9Bar Helvellyn Triathlon, which starts with a swim in Ullswater, followed by a road ride up The Struggle to the Kirkstone Pass, and finishes with a run up and down Helvellyn. Don’t expect to set a new PB! The next race is on 6th September, and entry costs £61, trihard.co.uk
Maps: You’ll need Ordnance Survey Explorer OL5 to navigate your way over Helvellyn.
Stay here: There are cheap sleeps at YHA Helvellyn (near Glenridding), with beds from £13 per night, yha.org. For B&B, try Cherry Holme in Glenridding, cherryholme.co.uk. Or push the boat out and stay at Glenridding House Hotel, £155 per double for B&B, glenriddinghouse.com. The Ramblers Bar at The Inn on the Lake welcomes outdoorsy folk, no matter how wet you’ve got!
Check out more from our training section to help with your next adventure…